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PS_0720W_DUMB_THINGS

recently we’ve been working through what it means to be generous & how how closely a life of grace/graceful living is tied to our generosity.  and let’s be clear, generosity isn’t just about your money.  that’s a component, but it’s not the whole story.

so this line of thinking, conversation & teaching connects to another thing that i’ve been writing about here, and that is the idea/way of living; “doing dumb things”.

this is something that’s been brewing in me for the past couple of years & i’m beginning to get it out in a couple of different venues.

the premise here of doing dumb things is about the things that God calls us to do that look to those outside of relationship with God to be dumb.  they don’t make sense financially, don’t have the resources, don’t have the talent, don’t have the personnel.  if you’ll indulge me, that list reminds me of the time elaine runs the peterman catalog & puts the urban sombrero on the cover.  jerry then reminds her that she had “no brains, no ability, no training.”  essentially saying that she had no business doing what she was doing.

anyways, back to dumb things…

the call of God on our lives to pursue, to go, to do certain things is going to land us in places that are way over our head; and that’s by His design.

in the underlying tones of doing dumb things is the activity of generosity.  i am a firm believer that God, when active in our hearts, is calling us to give more of ourselves away; to be generous with all that we are.

through this recent teaching series 3 things showed up right away in relation to our generosity & the activity of God’s people

grace shows up in the people of God when we:

walk in humility

turn toward the hurting & oppressed

die to self

if you’ve been following Jesus very long at all there’s nothing new here.  but when we consider how these reflect weather or not we’re living generous lives, that may be some new territory in our hearts.

now the reason that this works into the “doing dumb things” issue is this;

when we respond to the call of God on our lives individually & as a church body God will call us, push us, urge us to give away what we have in ways that to the one not connected to God is going to look at & ask “what the heck do you think you’re doing?”  and it may not be in that soft a language.

and their question from a self-preservation line of thinking makes a lot of sense.  but when we get our moved by the the Spirit of God all of the common sense in the world, guided & defined by the world doesn’t come into play.

i have come to fully believe that the grace we exhibit to others is reflected in our ability to be generous with all that we have been given; talents, time, finances & more.  God is going to ask you to be more generous than you & have thought possible, and it’s going to be a beautiful thing when we respond to the invitation & the graceful nature of our hearts is revealed.

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670px-React-to-a-Gift-You-Do-Not-Like-Step-1

just this past sun., and in fact the past couple of weeks have been difficult to get out what i’ve felt like God has placed inside me.  leaving me with a feeling of things unsaid.

yesterday, while putting the house together with Christmas decorations this thought hit me; as if saying, “this is what you were trying to say on sunday.”

john5 tells of Jesus walking to the pool of bethesda where the man crippled lay for 38 years.  in short, Jesus heals the man & does what Jesus does, He slips away only to return later.  the man is carrying his mat; which Jesus told him to do; and the keepers of the law [we could call them “good church-folk”] aren’t happy that he’s working on the sabbath.

by the time Jesus shows up on this particular day to do this particular work of God working on the sabbath had 39 different categories.  within those categories there were some specifics on what you could & couldn’t carry.  specifically you were not allowed to pick up & put down things in a manner that resembled work.  so what the man, who use’ta-couldn’t walk, was doing was way out of bounds.

the thing that hit me yesterday was that the religious people, who were very good at being good, rushed right past the miracle on the way to the ordinary.

i don’t mean to say that being a good person should just be put aside & not recognized.  but being good isn’t what God came here for; that you and i would be good people.

He comes to do the miraculous…

and then the question that should come to mind:  am i guilty of doing this?

in this season may we make sure that we’re not simply engaging in the ordinary, the usual, the common-place of the season

…as good & enjoyable as all that is;

only to miss out on the miraculous that God is desperately trying to unveil right before our eyes.

by the way, merry Christmas!

love as the highest value?love value [blog]

in the non-church world i think many would agree that this could be the highest value to pursue.  i have a working theory that in the world, in america specifically, we care more about money than we care about anything else; but that’s another conversation.

so love, that makes me feel all warm inside, & YES!! we should pursue love above all else.

but in the church…as followers of Christ…is this the highest value?

shouldn’t the pursuit of Christ be the highest value?

what about worship to God?

how about correct doctrine & theology, that’s certainly most important?

the list could continue for a while…

while it’s true that sound doctrine & theology are important,

and worship of God & all that He is matters greatly,

and we should always find ourselves in pursuit of Jesus Christ in all we do.

if we simply look at the life of Jesus [dangerous] we see that all He does is motivated by & through love.

the woman at the well…

zacchaeus’ redemption…

His walk to the cross…

i think sometimes that we get concerned about making sure the “whole” story of God is told.  and when we focus on something like “love” aren’t we then leaving out some important details about what God wants from your life & mine?

i think that can happen.  which is why it’s so important that the church you’re a part of is teaching the totality of God’s word.  but a beginning point, a motivating factor & daily, life-long pursuit is the love of God & how that impacts the world we live in.

i’m a firm believer that when we, no matter the station of life we’re in, pursue truth we end up at the feet of Jesus.

if we’re looking for a way to justify our lifestyle, we’re not seeking truth.

if we’re trying to find a way to do something that stands in direct opposition to God’s word, we’re not seeking truth.

 

if anything gets in front of our ability to love, we’ve begun the descent into a life, a church, without Jesus at the center.  we’ve decided that our preferences are of greater value than the people Jesus loves…the people that we’re supposed to love.

so love as the highest value, pursue it!

very recently i was drawn into a conversation that, truthfully, ranged all over.  these are good conversations because they have the possibility of opening doors that we may never consider.

part of the conversation touched on thoughts of what “used to be”; that is remembering a very fond time with a specific group of people & a little of mourning the loss of & disconnection to those relationships.

i was a part of that time in history for this person & i remember those times & those days & i have to concur with the sentiment; those WERE good times!  i remember them well.

drake-hold-on-were-going-home

a phrase i’ve heard before; “you can never go home”

we can physically go back to places we’ve been before, but it always feels a little different, not quite the same.  i remember this walking into my elementary school dropping off or picking up my kids as they attended the same school.  that place feels small now!  it must have shrunk!  it had to have changed, because it doesn’t feel the same.  grant it, it still looks the same, but it’s not the same…at least for me.

obviously we’ve all experienced this, and it’s why that phrase is true; you really can’t go home again.  this is a mental issue much more than a physical issue.  when we remember & recall we’re remembering some very specific things about a specific place in time, many times with some very specific people.  and that moment is calcified in our minds.  so if the memory is good, the calcification is a good thing.  if the memory is bad; well, not as good.

when the memories are good this human condition can also known as nostalgia.  this is when we look back with great fondness on something & little parts of us want to return to that moment.  the trouble with nostalgia is that not only that our memories are built from our specific vantage point, but that they are always in the past.  i know, not a revolutionary thought, and not what you came here for.  no one’s ever said, “i remember tomorrow fondly.

WHAT GOD’S UP TO

one of the things that God does with us, if we’re willing to pursue Him, He’s always drawing us into the future, creating new paths for us to walk, new understandings of Him & what He has for us.

the trouble with nostalgia is that it can take a strong root in our hearts.  yea, our hearts.  when our hearts get involved there is a great possibility to grow increasingly emotional about an event or moment in time or a way of doing something.  this can become problematic because that nostalgia can keep us from seeing a future God has in mind for us, thus keeping us  in a perpetual state of longing for something that will never return.

community is tricky.  it requires a level of transparency that many of us are uncomfortable with.  community, for it to really work well, needs to have some honest, truth-telling.  even truth-telling about the past; “hey, that thing you remember so fondly…let me tell you about it from my perspective, the people involved, the larger picture of what all was going on then.”  done with grace & love for one another, this can be a beautiful thing.

WHEN DOES NOSTALGIA BECOME A HINDRANCE TO TOMORROW?

at the risk of being vague or providing no real handles for us today, i do think it depends on one thing…you.

if, in your remembering, your longing for what once was is greater than your hope for the future…

if you remember yesterday with fondness & angst or frustration or even anger for the future…

if more of your conversation revolves around “the good old days”…

if reasons for not venturing into the new are “we’ve never done it that way before”, or, “i don’t think i’d like that”…

if you’re living out the words of the springsteen song, “i hope i don’t sit around trying to recapture the glory, but i probably will”…

if we are surrounded by a community of people that are very much like us this is a trend that will be harder to break.  because this is a trend that will show up in our lives.

if though, our community is diverse in age, race, economic demographic, taste & even fashion our hearts will be soft toward change, the new, unusual & different.  and it is there that God has great freedom to moves us, change our direction & draw us closer to Him.

to my friends that are struggling to connect with a new group of people, to those that find it hard to experience the new, hoping to not forget the past, to those that fell like part of them dies with the advent of new things, remember;

“He is new every morning, great is His faithfulness” [lam.3:23]

meaning that God is already in tomorrow waiting for you…in the new things He desires to show you.

men-holding-ladder-funny-picturesthis idea is something that’s been rolling around in me for a while now.  probably because of the things that are going on around me.

no, this isn’t a call to do things that are just plain stupid or risky to personal health.  and it’s not a  reminiscing of younger days when i didn’t seem to care about life or limb.  but instead, this is an acknowledgement of the calling & pursuit of the things that God has placed in your heart.

so this is probably going to be an on-going series for this blog. it’ll pop up every now-and-then as i’m working out some of the details of what it means to “do the dumb things” God asks of us.

so some definition of the “dumb things”

the definition of these dumb things shows up in the activity i have found myself in; specifically in the activity of church-life.

right now i’m working with two small church, in what’s referred to as a duel charge; trying to help two struggling congregations see & pursue a new future that is missional in mind-set & bent on pursuing God instead of what’s been comfortable for far too long.

in the process of landing with these two churches, and the pursuit of missional thinking & activity, one of the churches landed on an outreach meal as a way of revitalizing our connection to the community, specifically to the neighborhood in which the church is situated.

now keep in mind that part of the reason i’m working with these two churches at the same time is financial.  neither church has the budget to support a pastor full time.  to put it simply, there’s no money.

as we investigated the possibility of hosting a meal at the church, realizing that we had a fully functional, licensed kitchen, and with the financial requirement that it would take to host a free meal once a month it was obvious…if we really felt like God was asking us to pursue this endeavor He would be the one that provides the way to make it happen.

so upon applying for & receiving our first grant we launched supperCLUB.  since that first meal in sept.2012 we’ve served over 5000 meals, moving to twice a month with the meals.

now here’s the dumb thing of doing this:  there is no logical reason for a church of 40-50 people, who haven’t made their small budget in many, many years, who cannot even afford to pastor to be around full time should try and maintain feeding 60-80 people twice a month.  so i found myself saying, “this is a really dumb idea, us doing this thing of trying to feed people in need.  this is such a dumb idea.”

but when not a dime of church funds has been tapped to help make supperCLUB run…

and when each time we have needed a new freezer or refrigerator is needed…

and when the supperCLUB fund has run low…

each time there is a need, God shows up…

a grant coming through to provide funds…

a private individual coming & giving a check for supplies…

…a group that we didn’t even know about, noticing what we’re doing & offering a financial gift…

and here’s the qualifier for “dumb things”:

the are only dumb things

through the eyes of the world

that doesn’t understand how God works

these are dumb things when we try to calculate the loss & expense without looking at the lives that are drawn closer to Him, who can ultimately save their souls & provide a new life here on earth.

we are called to follow a God who created the universe & created us;

have relationship with a perfect God, who wants us even when we’re not perfect;

a God who stays close to us even when we stray from Him;

a God who came to save us before we asked Him to, who told us He would do just that, and then we killed Him;

and even after He was dead, defeats death & instead of turning away from us, still wants us in the same fashion as before…

that all sounds ridiculous, in fact it sounds like a dumb idea; but it’s still true.

so here we are, in the pursuit of the dumb thing that glorifies God.

so recently, after a series of worship & teaching gatherings at church, someone said to me something along these lines; “i’m just sad for the people thatrotator_0005_community-togetherness chose not to take part in what we had.”  she was telling me, along with a few other people that the recent gatherings we’d had were among the most meaningful in recent memory.

i try to be careful & not hang too much of my ego on these kinds of things, because i can start to believe the hype & begin to think, “i am pretty great aren’t i?”  thin ice, very thin ice!

but as she said those things i was recalling the way we evaluate our attendance at such events & gatherings.  more to the point, the reasons we have for not attending.  and i am in no way wanting to discredit our attending or not attending.  i know that some of the reasons we have are highly legitimate & valid.

part of the struggle comes down to our expectations on what we think will happen at such events.  then there’s the expectation we have on what it will cost us.

at the event/gathering

some of us are so trapped in our thoughts & memories of what used to happen & what was that we can’t see it being any better than what it was or it’s going to be just at bad as it ever was.

the memory of yesterday can be a difficult one to shake.  if you’ve ever had  a bad church experience; well, let’s just say “if you’ve ever been to church for very long at all…” then you probably have an association with a problematic situation, person or event.  and that memory can easily cloud everything else.  just think about names for a newborn baby.  make a suggestion & anyone who’s ever had a “bad association” with that name & you’re going to hear about it.

so our imagination can struggle to keep up with the “reasons why this is thing here, is going to stink.”

so we choose not to attend.

the day of the event/gathering

there’s also the struggle with the energy we have, knowing that it’s only so much.  and when the energy & strength is gone we know we need rest.

it’s so true that we need to be aware of the limited time & energy we have on a given day/week.  so many people have taxing jobs with deadlines & things that must be done & we don’t have much to give or attend to at the end of the day

because of these expectations there is a fall-out.  we don’t end up making it a priority, it never makes it to the calendar & we end up missing out entirely.

those who may also attend

if we’re aware of who else might be there, and we have a difficulty with that person/family/group that becomes the dominant issue keeping us from being a part.

“i don’t like the way i was treated by them.  i’m not a fan of that person.  we had a little blow-up a while ago.”

overall i also believe that we’re trapped into thinking in very limited terms.  

the limitations aren’t confined to just us.  i also believe that we end up limiting God in what He can do for & through us.

we end up thinking & then believing in very human terms.  meaning that our actions are built out of the limited world we live in.  and so we don’t allow the limitless power & scope of God to enter our decision-making paradigm.

here’s how it’s played out in my own life:

“i’m so wiped out tonight, i don’t think i can go.  i just don’t have the energy”

“i’ve been to one of those before & it just wasn’t that great.”

and the list of reasons continues to pile up.

and as they pile up we become more and more convinced that there is just no way that we should be there.  and that’s the human dynamic of this life.  but as people of God shouldn’t there be a supernatural component to our lives, that connection with God that supersedes our humanity.

i’m not talking about something that you make up or play make-believe with.  but the activity of God in your life that reminds you that you’re not in charge & that He’s the one who’s really “got this”.

out of that sprouting a belief that God can meet you in the midst of your tired, weary body & spent emotions;  and restore you so that you end up receiving something powerful.

that in the midst of the failed programs of the past God can do something brand new, and that it might just need your involvement & connection to make it new & beautiful.

a belief that maybe, just maybe God can restore broken relationships.  you can receive healing where you need it.  and that you will have the courage to offer healing to those that are in need of it.  because remember, in broken relationships there are 2 people that have participated to some degree; and you’re one of those people.

it’s critical that we realize that the communities that wed’re a part of need us & that we need them; in all of their flawed, failing, difficult, messy, beautiful & God-revealing wonder.  so get in there, stop standing on the outside waiting for the right moment.  that moment is now…

 

this issue has been brewing in me for a while now…bill-of-rights there are a host of difficult issues at play with the activation of the religious freedom act.

 FEAR

both sides of this issue have fear as a motivating factor.  for those that believe on one should be with-held services because of their sexual orientation through the lens of religious belief the fear could be placed at the feet of the question; “what’s next?  who are they going to bar next?  don’t i have the right to eat & sleep where i want?  isn’t this a free country where no one shall be unfairly judged or mistreated because of their nationality, creed, etc.?” the fear coming from the other side of the issue may sound like this; “if we, who morally object to this lifestyle, are forced to set aside our beliefs what’s next?  what will they take away next, our right to freely gather, our right to worship our God without mistreatment & persecution?” for the follower of Jesus the conversation, for me, begins in the wrong place. Jesus tells His disciples [and us] to not be afraid.  to let go of our fear, to trust in Him.  i kind of wonder, as one who is a follower of Christ, that our fear [Christ-followers] is a simple lack of faith that God has all things under His control.

 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

-mk.4:40

 something’s that at stake here for us all, is the answer to this question:  will you & i live in fear with what might happen if…? if we get under the surface at all that’s much of this is all about.

“are we headed back to segregation?”

“what will the government make us do next?”

“is this the end of religious freedom?”

“is this the end of my personal freedom?”

WORRY

are you, am i [as a follower of Christ], willing to trust in God that He has it under control? Jesus was very explicit that if we followed Him it would get tough [putting it lightly – He actually said we could die].  but that struggle, difficulty, persecution doesn’t mean that God had let go of the wheel & mayhem is on the loose.  it simply means that the struggle continues & government, no matter it’s form or goals, does not have the last word. “but what about the WORD of God standing tall?  don’t you want that?”   of course i  do.  but judgment is best reserved for God and God alone. accountability for actions is served best in the context of relationship.  picket lines & petitions don’t allow for any relationship & draw lines of one side against another; and i’m just not that interested in doing that.  i’m more interested in the love i show & how it reveals the work of Christ in me, broken & hypocritical as i can be.

 LOVE

as followers of Christ we are continually walking a thin line between demonstrating the love of Christ & doing whatever we want.  i saw a facebook post earlier this week from a friend when he simply reminded us that Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, tax collectors & those who partied too much.  and in the eyes of the religious elite, ruined His character. Jesus’ time here on earth was spent with those that the “church folk” didn’t want to have anything to do with.  and all Jesus does is spend time with them, offering them a chance to have a relationship with God. a God they may not have known. 1283-Indiana-Religious-Freedom-Restoration-Act-Frequently-asked-questions a God they may have felt abandoned by. a God they were not invited to know. we all have a tendency to get our rights all mixed up in all kinds of things.  as a follower of Jesus my rights take a back seat to the real call on my life; to love well.  Jesus tells us that how we love communicates whom we follow, so He says love others in the same way He has loved us.

 there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. the one who fears is not made perfect in love.      

1jn.4:18

 so our worry & fear stand in the direct path of God’s working in the midst of the muddy, murky water of life.

 FINALLY

the whole truth of how this all plays out is yet to be determined, but i have said this for a long time.  i believe that it’ll be settled by the wallet & not much else. we like money more than we like almost anything.  and this decision will have a financial impact on indiana more than the religious or LGBT community. when our wallets are affected we become different people, almost entirely regardless of our beliefs & convictions.  we have placed a great deal of importance on money & the false security it provides…

…but that’s probably a topic for another time.

so in the mean time love well, in the manner that Jesus loved. lay your worry to rest; and don’t let you fear be your spokesperson.  that guy gets enough air time.

so i have recently have been surrounded by a number of conversations about community & our involvement/connection to the community.  God has placed something inside us, at the root of who we are, to desire connection with others.  and we know this is good for us.

within community we realize that we’re not alone in our struggle.  in community there is a shared love & support.  within community we have the opportunity to see new parts of God & what He has in mind for us.  by the way, this part about seeing God in community, this is true in communities that celebrate God and those that don’t.  togetherness is a Godly pursuit weather we recognize it or not.

[but that’s probably another discussion]

broken community

a couple of observations about what we want from community & what we’re willing to do for community

we want the community to mostly come to us

“well, why didn’t let me know about…”

“i don’t feel included.”

here’s a hard truth, & saying this carries with it some risk of you not liking this, even that you may stop reading.  but here it is:  it’s not my job to make sure you come to & are connected to a church that you say is your home church.  if the church isn’t communicating an upcoming event or dates & times are very last minute that’s on the church.  but if you don’t know about something simply because you haven’t been around; i’m sorry, but that’s on you.  if you’re connected to the community then you’re going to know what’s happening because you want to know what’s happening.

no church worth it’s salt is going to beg you to be a part of what it’s doing.

we don’t always want to exert effort within the community

let’s be honest.  it’s easy to walk into a place that has everything just hummin’.  when the programs are awesome, when the crowd is big enough that no one will notice when i’m not there.  when nothing is expected of me.  when we’re honest with ourselves we should be able to say, “yea, that’s easy.  slip in, slip out.  get my church-fix & move on with the week.”  on the other hand it’s hard to join a community that doesn’t have all its ducks in a row.  a group that’s in process on a number of fronts.

now let’s be additionally clear about something.  i know plenty of pastors that are leading big churches & the problems, issues & hang-ups are present as well.  so i’m not bangin’ on the big church at all.

the larger, more important truth to all of this is about us, it’s not really about the community itself; large or small.

we know that community & connection to a healthy group of believers is good for us.  there are times in our lives when, for a variety of reasons, we simply don’t engage in it like we should.

but let’s track back to the beginning of this writing:

we’re not alone in our struggle

this, i think is one of the biggest lies that satan tells us: that we’re alone in our struggle.  “surely no one would understand this about you.  if you talk about this kiss goodbye any influence & trust you have.  you’re alone in this, and that’s the way it should stay.”

we know this is a lie simply reading the dysfunctional, broken, jacked up stories in the bible.  men & women who are called by God but seem to choose to mess up the response the call at almost every turn.  go ahead, check it out, i can’t do your homework for you.

shared love & support

when community is right, and there’s not shortage of communities that aren’t doing it right.  but when it’s right there is a sense of shared experiences & joy, as well as hurts & walking together through tough times.  but the bond that’s forged in tough times is a bond that lasts.

seeing new parts of God

something my wife has said, & have stolen it & now say it: “being part of a church forces me to spend time with & get to know people that i may ordinarily never have known…and that’s a good thing.”  when i’m with people that i may not have chosen to be with lets me see God in new light.  i end up hearing the stories of God activity in different ways.

community is a part of our holy dna

several years ago a group of us were having one of those highly spiritual conversations; what would you do if zombies really attacked?  how would you survive?  would you try and get together with a group of people, try and create a civilization?  or take off into the woods & try to make it on your own?

the answer from someone whom i have loads of respect & love for surprised me.  they said, “i’m out!  gotta’ go off, just me & my spouse; try to get as far away from people as possible!”  now the truth is that i don’t know if this person, who is very funny, was making a comedic comment or not.  and it could have been just that; comedy, not to be taken seriously.

but it did get me thinking about how God created us to NOT be alone.  God put a desire for us to be together, to be stronger when we come together.

“a chord of 3 strands…”

“a son shall leave his father & mother…”

“do not forsake meeting together…”

and here’s the beautiful thing about community, it’s never too late to join, to re-connect.

so if you made it all the way to the end of this article, you didn’t stop and swear off reading anymore from this author, and you’ve recognized that your connection to a local church community is waning…it’s not too late.

God has things for you to do, but some of those things are tied to your connection to the community of God.  so get plugged. the community needs you in a similar way that you need the community.

neuroscience

i was just reading an article in leadership journal, it was from summer 2014 [i’m a little behind in my reading!] & the cover story caught my eye.  it’s one of those God-moments that you best-not ignore!

recently i’ve been drawn back to some thoughts & next steps for the churches i lead & it’s all been revolving around the issue of discipleship; & the question “how do we do this better?”

that question really is at the heart of it all is related to size & depth.  i have no interest in leading a church of 100, 150, 200 or more if we’re spiritually shallow.

have you ever tried to carry a cookie sheet [one with short edges; you may have to go back to your grandmother’s cupboard for it] filled with water?  not easy, darn near impossible!  it’s not a lot of water, but it’s so spread out on the cookie sheet that the smallest mis-step spills the water all over.cookie sheet & water

 

that’s a picture i’ve had with me related to spiritual depth of a church for a while now.

the health & impact of a church on its community is largely tied to its spiritual depth & health; not just its size.  it’s true, size matters, but depth matters more.  we could be a mile wide & and an inch deep; and with that you’re not getting anything of significance done!

 so back to that article i was reading…

it was written by john ortberg & entitled “neuro ministry – how brain science informs discipleship

we now understand more about the brain than we ever have in human history.  we understand the way the brain works & categorizes things, creates patterns in thinking & doing tasks.  and these understandings can have profound impact in many facets of life…if we take note.

here’s one of the big take-a-way’s i had from this article as john was talking about patterns & habits that we form:

 “a habit is a relatively permanent pattern of behavior that allows you to navigate life.  the capacity for habitual behavior is indispensable…learning to type or tie shoes, drive a car is hard;

so many little steps.  after you learn, it becomes habitual.”

 these patterns of doing the little, everyday things neuroscientist call “chunks”.  we operate, largely out of chunks of info. & patterned behavior.  this has a huge spiritual dimension to it as well.

ortberg  goes on to reference paul in romans 12:2

“…the renewing of your mind.”

he suggests that paul; without really knowing precisely what he was talking about when he wrote that phrase, but informed by the Holy Spirit; hit the nail on the head!

when we allow God to renew our mind we are, in effect, allowing God to “re-chunk” our habits & patterns.  surrendering those bad habits, destructive relationships, poor decisions & the like to God.  replacing them with habits that honor God, tap into the health of a deepening relationship with the Creator.

coming back to that God-moment of recognition, as God is calling me to till up the ground of discipleship, it’s paramount that we understand that we’re heading into a time of re-working our physical efforts & drawing people into intentional conversations.  but there is some serious “brain work” that’s going to happen as well.

so the big question for us is actually quite simple:  are you willing to allow God to do some “neuro-work” in your brain?

the decision to remain the same & not change is an easy one; your brain doesn’t have to do anything new.  the decision to experience change & shift requires new thing; new “chunks”.  the question is, will you allow new neurons to fire & then change the course of your life & the lives of others?

50/50

friendshpin a recent conversation with my wife we were talking about a difficult situation where a leader had misused his power & influence; and had mistreated several people in the process.  the story goes that he & some of the people he leads had been overlooked in the midst of an accomplishment.  it was, from what i could tell, an honest mistake; but a mistake none-the-less.  this guys response was less than gracious & he really went after the people responsible.  what makes this worse is that some of those he went after were high school students.

this is all, of course, very disappointing.  but it spurred an interesting conversation with my wife & i.  and let me just say, she is very smart!  what she said, i think, we’ve talked about before but she immediately hit the nail on the head.

she said this:  “i’ve learned that it’s only about 1/2 of what you actually know [in your given field] & the expertise that you bring to the table that matters in how well you do your job.  the other 1/2 is how you treat people.

i know, brilliant!

i do believe this is absolutely true.  the measure of who we are as people is reflected in how well we treat others & the respect that’s given.  and here is the thing that takes it up a level:

the strength to consistently do this; give respect to those that we work with & give them space for mistakes to be made, this is found in a consistently deepening relationship with Christ.

if we’re going to try and do this; treating one another well, dignified & filled with grace we’re going to eventually tire & just scrap the effort.  because we will tire, we will grow weary, we will decide it’s all too hard, we will decide it’s not worth it.  the only way to battle that is finding that Jesus is the strength in our weakness.

Jesus’ mission statement [if we could call it that] can be found in john 10:10,

“i’ve come to give you life to the full.”

if we look at the whole of Jesus’ ministry we can see that this is the way that He lived.  He consistently gave dignity to people that had none in the social circles.  gave grace to those in the greatest need.  offered freedom to those that felt trapped.

so as we roll through this season, and really year around, are you offering life to those you’re in contact with?  a life connected to Christ, showing that He is the reason you act & live they way you act & live?

do you demonstrate that your skill-set; in whatever it is that you do, is only 1/2 of the things that matter in your life?

do you show that the people around you matter more than simply completing the job?

if not, make sure that changes today.